The Obsession Page 130

She rose up. Moonlight again, she thought. Here was moonlight, as it had been the first time they’d come together like this. Light, dark, shadows, living together to tint the air, to somehow sweeten it.

She took his hands, brought them to her breasts, to her own heartbeat.

“I’m what you need.”

“You are.”

For a moment, she pressed her hands to his. “Everyone should have what they need.”

She took him in, slow, slow, stretching the moment like a fine silver wire. “Oh, what being with you does inside me.”

And she began to move, a gentle, sinuous roll. Torturously arousing, a smoky, smoldering fire in the blood. He fought to let her set the pace, that slow burn of a pace, to stop himself from simply clamping around her like chains, taking her, taking his release.

Pleasure, so acute it sliced. Desire, so intense it seared. And love, so deep and yet so new it drowned him.

As if she knew, she smiled. “Wait.” Her eyes closed as she rolled her hips, kept him trapped and on the edge of torment. “Wait. And you can take what you need. Take what you want. How you want. Just wait.”

While he watched, barely able to breathe, her head fell back, her back bowed. Her arms rose to circle her head. All movement stopped. She was a statue, bathed in moonlight, made in moonlight.

She made a sound, half sob, half triumph. Then she smiled again; her eyes, opened and slumberous, met his.

His tether snapped. He had her on her back, under him, her arms still over her head, his hands clamping her wrists.

All that need, all that want, all that torment rushed together inside him. He drove into her like a man possessed; perhaps he was. Her shocked, breathless cries only added fuel.

He took what he needed, what he wanted. Took until there was nothing left for either of them.

And that was everything, for both of them.

In the morning Xander scowled at a tie as if deciding whether to wear it or hang himself with it.

“I don’t think Donna would care if you didn’t wear a tie.”

“No. But . . . I’m a pallbearer. Her daughter asked Kevin and me to be pallbearers.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize.” How much harder would that be for him? she wondered, and walked to her closet—which needed organizing since most of the clothes shipped from New York remained in boxes.

“You don’t have to go.”

She stopped, her hand on the black dress. “Would you rather I didn’t?”

“I don’t mean that. I mean you don’t have to. You don’t have to feel obligated.”

So much easier to stay home, she thought, to work in a quiet, empty house, as everyone in both crews would attend Donna’s funeral. And he was giving her the out.

“I didn’t know her very well, but I liked her. I know I’m not responsible for what happened, but I’m connected. I know you’ll have more friends than I can count there, but we’re together. It’s not an obligation, Xander. It’s respect.”

“I’m pissed off.” He tossed the tie on the bed, shrugged into the white dress shirt. “I’d shoved it down, but today I’m pissed off I’m going to carry a really good woman to a hole in the fucking ground.”

“I know.” She laid the dress on the bed, went to the dresser for a bra and panties. “You should be pissed off.”

While she dressed he picked up the tie again and, resigned, slid it under the collar of the shirt. “Ties are for bankers and lawyers,” he complained. “Or like Elton John said, the sons thereof.”

In her underwear, she turned to him, finished the knot herself. “Uncle Seth taught me. He said every woman should know how to tie a man’s tie, facing him. And I’d know why someday.” She smiled, smoothed the fabric down. “And now I do. Look at you, Xander Keaton, clean shaven.” She stroked a hand over his cheek. “Wearing a tie.” She angled her head. “Who are you again?”

“It won’t last.”

“And that’s fine, too.” She pressed her cheek to his. “This time I’m going to help you through. Let me.”

He let out a curse that ended on a sigh. Then put his arms around her. “Thanks. Tell me when you need to go. They closed Rinaldo’s for the day. People are supposed to go there after, but if you—”

“Just let me help you through.”

“Right. You’re half—more than—naked, and I’m not. Something off about that.”

“I’m about to be un-naked. Maybe you could let Tag out, make sure he does everything he has to do. I don’t want to leave him outside alone while we’re gone.”

“We could take him.”

“No, we’re not taking the dog to a funeral. He’ll be fine in the house as long as he has a rawhide and his stuffed cat. And a ball. I’ll be down in ten minutes.”

“You’re the first and only woman I’ve known who says that and means it. Hey!” He snapped his fingers at the dog, who instantly grabbed his ball in his jaws and body-wagged. “We’re going out the back, pal, and keeping out of that topsoil.”

Xander grabbed his suit jacket, headed out the bedroom doors to the deck with the dog flashing ahead of him. “Lock this behind me,” he told Naomi.

She did, then put on the dress she hadn’t worn in . . . she couldn’t quite remember, and finished getting ready for her second funeral in the Cove.

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